Asian Stocks End Mixed amid Healthcare Volatility


Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday, as weak commodity prices and volatility in the overnight session played to investor concerns about the health of the global economy.

Chinese stocks rebounded, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index recovering from its biggest drop in five-week low amid concerns of waning international growth. The Shanghai Composite closed up 1.5% at 3,368.74 after falling 3.1% in the previous session. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks stocks traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen, closed up 1.5% at 3,524.53.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed down 0.6% at 22,845.37.

Japanese stocks ended lower, with Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei falling 0.6% to 18,435.87. Of the Nikkei’s 225 members, 149 ended in the red. Healthcare and materials companies led the losses.

A mixed performance in Asia followed unexpected volatility on Wall Street after short-selling firm Citron Research lobbed harsh accusations against Canadian drug maker and New York Stock Exchange constituent Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. In a note entitled, “Valeant: Could this be the Pharmaceutical Enron?” Citron accused the company of channel stuffing, a deceptive business practice in which a company inflates its sales figures by forcing more products through its distribution channel than the channel is capable of selling.

Valeant shares plunged by as much as 40% on Wednesday, dragging healthcare and pharmaceutical stocks down with it.

Stocks on Wall Street closed down 0.7% on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 Index shedding 0.6%. The S&P’s healthcare component finished down 0.9%.

Corporate earnings were mixed on Wednesday. General Motors beat expectations on both profit and revenue for the third quarter, but Coca-Cola fell short on revenues. The global soft drink maker attributed much of the weakness to a stronger US dollar.

Oil prices rebounded on Thursday after falling to their lowest levels of the month. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for US crude climbed 71 cents or 1.6% to $45.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, advanced 60 cents or 1.3% to $48.45 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in Europe.

After a promising rally earlier in the month, gold prices were down for a second consecutive day. Gold for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, slipped $1.20 to $1,165.90 per troy ounce after falling more than $10 on Wednesday. The yellow metal peaked at $1,187.50 on October 15.